The affection of small creatures is as rewarding as anything in this world: Ayoub used to fight sleep like it was a monster, all fists and screams and little face scrunched in angry tears against the crib and the woman trying to put him there. Now, he enters his room with pride and understanding, in control of his own destiny, offers me his arms and sits on my lap, sippy-cup in hand, while we read his Quran.
Recently, he’s begun looking up, mid-sip, mid-verse, and fixing me with an expectant gaze. It turns out he’s waiting for a kiss, and so I kiss him, and we continue with our reciting and drinking, and we repeat, continue, repeat, continue, repeat until the routine is done.
It’s a blissful five minutes, slow, hug-filled, fat fingers and soft cheeks the centre of my universe. I know in another month he’ll be bigger, and the routine will change again. And I want it to stay exactly as it is now, perfect in the understanding we’ve developed, the peace we’ve forged. But I know that I don’t really want it to stay like this, know that part of the sweetness of right now is how fleeting it all is, how it’s already gone even as I write these words, how tomorrow morning he’ll wake another boy, with another skill, bringing forth another frustration, and all all of this mould him and shape him and build him up, and I’ll get to watch, and I’ll always have the best seat, front row, centre stage.